It was two weeks later and her husband hadn’t spoken more than a few words to her since Lucy’s death. She suspected that he had been drinking too much whiskey, but she didn’t feel it her place to say anything. She let him shut himself in his room, while she sought solace on the piano. After a couple of songs, someone clapped quietly from behind her.
She spun around on the stool. It was McClure, smiling gently at her. She stood to greet him, but he held out his hand.
“That was lovely, please continue.”
She sat at the piano and played whatever song came to her, when she suddenly found herself playing Lucy’s favorite piece. That’s when Shae finally allowed herself to weep. She had pushed down all of her emotion until then.
McClure made his way to her and petted her head like she was a lost puppy. If Shae hadn’t been so distraught she would have thought it funny. However, she was broken-hearted, and appreciated his clumsy effort to comfort her. That’s when her husband walked in. He was definitely intoxicated.
“What’s this? I came down here to silence the racket, and find my best friend wooing my wife,” he accused sneeringly.
McClure eyes were spitting fire. He stopped petting her hair and stood up in righteous anger.
“You DUNDERHEAD! I was comforting her in her grief over losing Lucy, which is something that no one has thought to do for her. Her parents are traveling overseas, or they might have. A more rationale choice would be for her husband to do it, you dunce.”
Matheson pointed to the door.
“Out,” was all he said. McClure leaned over to Shae and said his goodbyes, as well as something much like “stand your ground”.
“OUT,” he repeated to McClure.
As McClure passed Matheson, he clucked like a chicken. And before he could get punched in the face, half-ran out the door, rather like a chicken himself. He’d been punched by Randolph Matheson before as a youth, and didn’t want to repeat the experience. His friend had hands like anvils.
After McClure had left, Matheson turned to his wife.
“Well,” he demanded. “What do you have to say for yourself?”
“What do I have to say for myself?” she repeated, incredulously.
“That’s what I said,” he said, taking a few heavy steps towards her.
Shae snorted, and then turned around pluck out a few chords on the piano.
“Stop that racket!”
She continued to play, this time going into “Moonlight Sonata” like she did all those months ago at the house on the farm. That time he seemed mesmerized by her playing. That same evening he said she was like a wren. She didn’t know why that day stuck with her. It was one of McClure’s own ridiculous notions, but her husband calling her a wren had touched her heart somehow. It had been a gentle shower on her parched heart.
“Why are you playing that?” he asked, tilting up his chin, “I remember the last time you played that piece. It was the first night you met McClure.”
He practically spit out his friend’s name, as he sauntered over to stand behind her. With that, she slammed her hands on the keys, and turned to face him. He stood 10 feet away, his arms crossed over his chest. His eyes were fierce and stormy.
“McClure is a family friend, nothing more.”
“Then why did I see him caressing you… behind my back?”
Shae was actually angry, utterly fuming. She didn’t think that had ever happened to her before. Never before had there been anything beyond irritation for nasty people like Neva Langley. But this fire in her belly? Her husband’s words to her were a desecration of the regard she had always given to him and of the promise she made when she married him.
She stood up and walked so close to him that she had to tip up her head to look him in the eye. “Stand your ground,” echoed in her head, thanks to McClure. And McClure was right. It was time to.
“Firstly, Mr. Matheson there has been little behind your backside these past few days, except the floor, your chair and your bed.”
She poked his chest, as she said it. His eyes widened at her audacity.
“And secondly, if you hadn’t been looking through the bottom of a tumbler of Scotch these past three days, your vision would have been clear enough to notice that his caressing was closer to that of a toddler petting a lost puppy.”
She looked up at him, expecting a storm in his blue-grey eyes still, but found deep sadness instead. Drinking definitely let down his guard, and revealed that wild nature that she had found so fascinating on occasion. She didn’t much like it now, with his jealous rantings, but the sadness in his was exactly like that of a lost puppy. Interesting choice of words on her part, it seemed.
“I’m so sorry about Lucy, Rand,” she said placing her hand on his chest, tears in her eyes.
She missed Lucy. She hurt for herself, and she hurt for her husband. His heart thundered beneath her hand. He looked down at her, and took ahold of her arms. Then he held her in his arms and cried. She wept too, for the loss of Lucy, for her husband, and she even allowed it for herself. After they had finished crying together, he tilted up her face and kissed her gently on the forehead. Then he strode out of the room, and out the door.